“It’s as if I’m invisible, Janey. No-one notices me any more.” These sad were spoken by my Mother after the waiter ignored her and presented me with the bill. It SHE who was taking ME out to lunch. It was she who had driven me to the restaurant, maneuvering her way confidently through the Californian traffic and muttering under her breath, “that old doozie should not be on the road” when another wrinkly suddenly pulled out in front of her from a side street.
Do you remember back in childhood the frustration of waiting patiently to be served only to have the shopkeeper ignore you in preference to the grown-up behind you? This works in reverse in old age: whenever my elderly Mum was shopping/ eating out with me the bill was always presented to me. Perhaps they thought that I was her carer?
Now it is my turn. My friend and I were most definitely invisible when we boarded a crowded tube train last week. No-one saw us. They were all wrapped in that defensive bubble with which commuters wrap themselves and not even the sight of my friend’s stick was enough to jolt their consciences. Now I am able to stand – I practise “standing meditation” when doing Tai Chi. But my friend urgently needed to sit down. I heard myself say, “Please would one of you let my friend have a seat?” and two passengers immediately jumped up, apologising. Yes, we were invisible. They just had not seen us.
It is worse when walking along the pavement. Pedestrians in groups of three or four will bear down towards you. No! They do not expect you to step into the gutter! You are invisible. They just have not seen you. The best thing to do is to keep looking straight ahead and keep walking. The group will then flow around you. Do not make eye contact – if you do, they assume you will give way because you have seen them.
Am I over-sensitive? Does everyone at times feel “invisible”?